Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse and if you find yourself suddenly needing to make this adjustment, as is the case with many of y'all right now due to COVID-19, it could feel like it's a massive curse. . Since I have worked from home throughout my design career, I've got some tips to help y'all ease the transition.
1. Create a dedicated work space.
You don't need to turn a spare room into a state of the art home office but you can't plan to work at the kitchen table or from the comfort of your bed either. Where you set up your home office will be crucial to successfully working from home.
A friend of mine recently posted these before and after pictures of her husband's new home office. She was so excited to show everyone the great space she had carved out for him with deep love and careful consideration.
Now, of course this was all done in jest but, they are a family of 6 so finding space for his temporary home office WAS a bit of a challenge. He really didn't have to work from the bathtub but for some of you, this might not be too far from what you feel is your reality. Breathe deeply and keep reading.
When contemplating where you will set up your office, think about quieter spaces that get used daily but that are not used all day. Do you have a corner of the Master Bedroom that you could confiscate? Is there an unoccupied nook in the basement? Could you create a makeshift office on one side of the laundry room? When pondering where to establish your home office, keep in mind that you will want to have the following:
a. At least a 36" long work space and a comfortable chair.
b. Access to power outlets.
c. Office supplies.....paper, pens, printer with ink and adequate printer paper, stapler, etc.
d. Proper lighting. The single, overhead laundry room light won't be bright enough in which to adequately work. If you have to commandeer the living room floor lamp for awhile, so be it.
2. Continue with your usual morning routine.
Minus any time that you previously needed for commuting, keep your morning routine the same. Get up at the same time and do what you would normally do if you were headed to the office, including getting dressed. Staying in your pajamas and not brushing your hair might seem like a good idea but when the boss calls an impromptu SKYPE meeting, you will regret that decision. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing like a great pair of big, baggy, comfy sweat pants combined with fuzzy house shoes (which I am known to frequently wear) but I am all business on the upper half of my body so for video calls, live interviews and Skype chats, I am appropriately dressed. My point?.....get up and clean up to show up; y'all will thank me for this piece of advice, I promise.
3. Maintain a set work schedule.
Your office location has changed but your office hours most likely have not. Ensure you are disciplined enough to start work at the same time and end work at the same time as you always have. If you normally work from 8am until 5pm then stick to that schedule. When the clock says its time for your work day to end, shut the computer down, walk away and be with your loved ones. Resist the temptation to keep working or to return to work after the kids have gone to bed. You would not get in your car and drive back to the office in the evening, so don't boot up that laptop just because it's at home, k?
4. Take frequent breaks.
Set a timer on your phone, your computer, your watch or your fitness tracker as a reminder to take frequent breaks. .While working at the office, we take restroom breaks, walk to the conference room for meetings, go to the break room, go out for lunch...the possibilities are somewhat endless as to all of the various ways we move. We have none of these options when we work from home so we have to create new options. Scheduling reminders can help with this new "normal". For example, my fitness tracker prompts me to move at 10 minutes before the hour, every hour. Without this reminder, I would most likely sit at my desk for hours at a time, which is SO not healthy
5. Get outside every day.
A daily does of fresh air is essential when our home and office are one in the same. Go for a walk or quick run during your lunch break. Maybe take a conference call from the back deck. Perhaps enjoy your morning coffee on the porch while you check emails. However you choose to get outdoors, I encourage y'all to schedule this into the work day just like any other appointment and then keep that appointment.
Working from home will take some discipline and require self-grace as you make the adjustment but you got this!